Thanksgiving may be next week, but rap, hip-hop, and R&B fans have a lot to be thankful for already. Last week, A Tribe Called Quest released their phenomenal final album, We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service. This week, Bruno Mars released his highly anticipated 24K Magic to overwhelming critical acclaim. Both albums mark new material from artists that haven’t released anything in years, and have come as a big relief to their respective fans. While hip-hop isn’t normally associated with this time year, the albums from Tribe and Mars are just the beginning of a holiday season full of potentially terrific albums by some of the biggest names in the genre. A number of singles from those upcoming albums were released today, and, if they’re any indication, these albums promise to leave rap lovers very thankful for the next few weeks. Since most people will be busy stuffing turkeys and whipping potatoes next week, we thought we’d give you a run down of the most anticipated singles and albums for you to check out.
The superstar Canadian singer and songwriter hit it big with his second album, Beauty Behind the Madness, last year, and everyone’s been wondering what he’s going to do next. The Weeknd has been releasing an unusually large number of singles for several weeks, including “Starboy” and “False Alarm”. This week is no exception, as the artist released another collaboration with Daft Punk titled “I Can Feel It Coming”, as well as the single “Party Monster”. This is all in anticipation of his upcoming album – also titled Starboy – that drops next week, on November 25th. His tracks with Daft Punk have already become extremely successful due to the chemistry between the artists, and critics have praised the other two singles. There’s still a week left until the album’s release, but with all the accolades The Weeknd has received for the singles, Starboy is destined to become an instant classic.
Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, has taken a more serious, mature approach to both his comedy and music. While Glover has been bringing his new style to the hit FX show Atlanta, Gambino has been hard at work on his follow-up to 2013’s Because the Internet. While his new record “Awaken, My Love!” won’t be released until December 2nd, Gambino has recently released two singles from the album. Last week, audiences were treated to the single “Me and Your Mama”; a track that combines ethereal effects with classic soul-inspired vocals and lush choral accompaniment. The album’s second single, “Redbone”, also features touches of classic soul; sporting a funky bass line backbeat and soulful crooning on the part of Gambino. While Because the Internet featured a decidedly modern and futuristic musical style, Gambino’s newest singles have melded the cutting edge with the classic, leaving critics optimistic about “Awaken, My Love!”
John Legend is back with his first original, solo material since his collaborative Academy Award-win with Common in 2015. His fifth studio album, Darkness and Light, comes out on December 2nd, but Legend has released two singles in anticipation of the record. The first single from the upcoming album, “Love Me Now”, was released on October 7th and showcased the powerful vocal range and piano mastery that Legend has become known for. The second single, “Penthouse”, was released today and features guest vocals from Chance the Rapper. Darkness and Light also features appearances by Brittany Howard and Miguel, but the real highlight here will be Legend redefining the boundaries of his vocal and musical abilities.
Run the Jewels
While there is no definitive date for the duo’s next album, Run the Jewels 3, signs are appearing to indicate that it’ll be soon. Killer Mike had previously mentioned that he wanted the album done by the end of the year. A tweet by El-P on September 27th mentioned that the album has been recorded and is almost finished. Recently, the first single from the album, titled “Panther Like A Panther (I’m the Shit)”, was discovered in a trailer for the game Gears of War 4. Today, another single was released featuring rapper BOOTS, titled “2100”. While things might not go according to plan, Run the Jewels’ dedication to releasing the album before the year is out, the fact that it’s mostly done, and finally the release of the two singles is a pretty good indication that the album is due any week now.
Since being released from federal prison in May after spending two years inside, Gucci Mane has been reviving his music career with ferocity. In late June, he released his ninth studio album, Everbody Looking, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200. In October, he released the album, Woptober; while the album was supposed to be for sale, days before its release Mane decided to stream the album for free. On Monday, audiences discovered that Mane and Future had been recording tracks together when Mane released the mixtape Free Bricks: Zone 6 Edition (although it’s unclear if Future knew about the plans for a mixtape or not). On Tuesday, the rapper sent out a tweet announcing the release date of his next album, The Return of East Atlanta Santa, which will be December 16th. Today, he appeared on the Rick Ross single “Buy Back the Block” with 2 Chainz. To summarize, Gucci Mane has been busy. Even though he has a set date for his next album, keep an eye out; you never know what he might randomly release in the meantime.
The Hamilton Mixtape
While the soundtrack to a hit Broadway musical might not seem like it belongs in a list of upcoming rap albums, hip-hop’s biggest stars are adding their own style to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acclaimed music. While there is currently no official album yet, five covers of Miranda’s original, hip-hop inspired music have been released, featuring vocals and revamped lyrics from the likes of The Roots, Usher, Queen Latifah, Sia, Fata El Presidente, Miguel, Busta Rhymes, and more. The official remix album will drop on December 2nd, and will include even more stars like John Legend, Wiz Khalifa, Chance the Rapper, and Watsky. With Hamilton such a huge success, and the music’s subject material more politically and socially relevant than ever, this is the perfect time for such a groundbreaking collaboration.